Forty years and untold laundry loads of filthy sports bras after Title IX became law in the US, American women have something shiny to show for it: 2/3 of America's medals in the 2012 Olympics. If US women were their own country, they'd have placed fifth in the medal count standings. Thanks, Richard Nixon!
This was a pretty incredible Games for the women, but why American women dominated on the basketball court, soccer field, track, pool, and gym is no secret: since then-President Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law in 1972, American educational institutions have been required to fund women's sports in a way that's proportional to the male/female breakdown of the school. Girls playing competitive sports has become culturally engrained, and kicking all sorts of ass at the highest level of competition is a natural result of that culture.
According to the Washington Post, the US finished these Olympics at the top of the medal count once again, mostly thanks to women. Two-thirds of the US's golds came from women, as did 60% of the country's medals and propelling us to once again defeating China (the East Germany of the last few Olympic games, to the American television audience) in the standings.
But chest thumping and slo-mo gifs of muscles aren't the only reward for American women's success — the United States Olympic Committee receives no government funding, and thus relies entirely on donations. It's much easier to inspire people into forking over cash when you've got a good highlight reel. More money means more resources to support Olympic athletes means more well-prepared potential gold medalists in 2016. They're probably onto something — I defy a person to watch the moment when Carmelita Jeter points at the clock as she crosses the finish line of a world record-setting 4X100 meter relay like some kind of magnificent goddess of speed and not feel compelled to support female athletes.